New Campagnolo electric prototypes

Push-button shifters on test in Flanders

Just when we were pretty confident that Campagnolo had nearly finalized the design for its own electronic group, a new version showed up at the start of this year’s Tour of Flanders Sunday. 

The derailleurs looked to be essentially unchanged from what we’d seen prior but the levers were wholly new items and the battery housing looks to have received some minor tweaks to allow the use of a standard bottle cage instead of the integrated carbon unit.

Relative to the modified Ergopower test mules we’re used to seeing, the new levers bear an all-new shape with longer and curvier carbon brake lever blades.

The significant length of lever blade on top of the pivot location suggests to us that adjustable reach might also be incorporated here (now a virtually required feature courtesy of SRAM’s new Red levers).

The lever body is bigger, too, with a more pronounced and inwardly canted peak that provides a perfect place to hook your thumbs when you’re dropping your elbows and getting low. 

Despite the dramatically different appearance, though, the new shape actually feels quite similar to standard Ergopower levers as the primary contact surface locations are mostly unchanged.

This latest iteration also boasts a functional change as the inboard thumb paddles have disappeared in favor of shrouded push buttons. A second button paired with the shift button is apparently used to operate the associated Ergobrain computer.

Even though this is the first time we’re aware of that the new levers have made a public appearance, they look surprisingly close to production items save for the somewhat rough fit of the hoods. 

If these were true prototypes we would have expected the bodies and lever blades to be made using typical small batch procedures such as CNC machining, stereolithography or selective laser sintering, yet the composite body and carbon lever blades indicate that final, or nearly final, molds have already been cut.

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